Screens Tragedy foretold

Darth Vader's mesmerizing metamorphosis makes 'Revenge of the Sith' the satisfying prequel we've been waiting for

In Revenge of the Sith, the final episode of the Star Wars prequels, Anakin Skywalker embraces his dark side.

After stepping up to the plate for the start of a second trilogy and striking out with 1999's Episode I - The Phantom Menace and 2002's Episode II - Attack of the Clones, George Lucas' third installment of his Star Wars prequel, Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, was a must-win if he was to call his return to the Empire a success. If the Death Star's strength or Millenium Falcon's lightening speed moved you to place Lucas on a filmmaker's pedestal, then Sith confirms his upper-echelon status by giving fanboys the grimmest and most well-executed tale of the modern series.

Sith opens with Anakin Skywalker (Christensen) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (McGregor) fighting another galactic battle in the Clone Wars, this time against Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) and his lanky, evil, 'droid separatist, General Grievous, who have captured Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (McDiarmid).

With the chancellor rescued and set to receive more executive powers, which could possibly end the war, the entire Jedi Council feels uneasy and begins to lose trust in him as the balance of power tilts in his favor. Cue Anakin's slow move into the Dark Side as the Jedi Knight is promoted to the council alongside Obi-Wan and Yoda, but is not given the same title as his peers. What he sees as Jedi hypocrisy rankles him.

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

Dir. and writ. George Lucas; feat. Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Samuel L. Jackson, Ian McDiarmid (PG-13)
Anakin is further confused when he starts to have nightmares that reveal to him the death of his wife Padmé (Portman), who is pregnant with twins (oh, how lovely it is to watch it all fall into place). Because the bad dreams are similar to those that he had of his mother before she died, Anakin suffers the knowledge of his true love's fate. When Palpatine tells him that "the Dark Side of the Force is a path to many abilities that seem unnatural," Anakin is given a difficult choice: Turn your back on the Jedi order or face the consequences, which will affect those for whom you care.

Anakin's descent into Darth Vader is evident, but what Lucas does with this metamorphosis is truly remarkable. With over 20 years of emotion and anticipation hanging on these most important scenes of the entire Star Wars saga, Lucas delivers brash personal conflicts and a sense of fulfillment and discovery, albeit bittersweet and already identified.

Sure, traveling to the all-Wookie world of Kashyyyk, witnessing the birth of Luke and Leia, and sitting ringside while master and student fight a one-on-one lightsaber match surrounded by rivers of lava is all well and good. But Lucas controls himself, unlike in the previous prequels, and sticks to the most poignant issues, which makes the transition from Sith to A New Hope effortless. Transforming Darth Vader from an antagonistic sci-fi icon into the tragic character that he is is the most impressive of Lucas' dramatic achievements since Episode V's "I am your father."

By Kiko Martinez